Discover Brisbane's top major attractions - Visit Brisbane

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Discover Brisbane's top major attractions

Australia’s River City is full of unexpected surprises - and we’ve got the inside scoop. Whether you’re here for a day, a week, an extended holiday or you’re lucky enough to live locally, we’ve got a comprehensive guide to make sure you can tick off every iconic Brisbane experience, as well as some hidden gems. We’re sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how much our city has to offer.

Cruises, culture and a city of excitement. What more could you want? #thisisbrisbane

Cruise the Brisbane River

The iconic Brisbane River is the perfect backdrop to this city of lifestyle and leisure. Being on the water is one of the best ways to enjoy a Brisbane sightseeing adventure. For dining and entertainment, Miramar Cruises host a range of trips from the Koala Cruise that takes you to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the Classic River Cruise, and the new Twilight Cruise where you can take in a glorious Brisbane sunset with a refreshing drink in your hand. For a Brisbane classic, The Kookaburra Queen is a beautiful balance of old-school cool and modern dining – all aboard an old paddle steamer.

The CityCat is part of the TransLink public transport network and runs from St Lucia to Hamilton.

Breathtaking views

Off the watery path, Brisbane has plenty of other sights to marvel at. It’s hard to beat the bird’s eye view you can only get with a helicopter tour of the CBD or the islands. Or keep your feet on the ground and enjoy stunning city views perched on the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, or a different perspective from Eagle Street Pier on the opposite bank. The Story Bridge Adventure Climb is exactly what it says on the tin, and is a great way to get another breathtaking view over Brisbane. A quick drive up Mt Coot-tha offers more wonderful sunrise and sunset views. Stay after the sun goes down and watch the city lights and star-lit skies sparkle to life.

For truly spectacular views you can climb straight into the sky with one of Brisbane's hot air ballooning companies. Hot Air Balloon Brisbane can collect you from within the CBD well before the sunrise to take you down to O'Reillys in the Scenic Rim for a vineyard and coastal view. Thirty minutes west of the city, Floating Images promises the most beautiful countryside and cityside views across the Lockyer Valley and the city of Ipswich.

Howard Smith Wharves

At the heart of Brisbane’s dining and entertainment hub is Howard Smith Wharves. Enjoy the best seat in the house right under the Story Bridge, on the edge of the sparkling Brisbane River. It’s a place where you’re spoilt for choice with some of Brisbane’s best restaurants and bars, and it just keeps getting better!

Your first stop has to be Felon’s Brewing Co. and their new beer hall - a freshly renovated, old wool shed that opens onto the river. Sample the beers brewed on the premises, which are even more refreshing with a gentle river breeze. Just a few metres away is the effortlessly cool, Mr Percival’s. This is the place to sip cocktails and watch the sparkling city skyline work its twilight magic.

No matter what flavour you’re chasing, the wharves have got something to surprise you. Try some authentic greek at Greca (you HAVE to get the saganaki), or funky Japanese at Yoko Dining, or if you’re feeling fancy, fine dine on Cantonese at Stanley Restaurant or traditional but trendy Italian at Ciao Papi.

From breakfast, to lunch, to the perfect afternoon beverage, to dancing the night away under stars (or lounging on a bean bag), the wharves has it all. But don’t stop there, book a night at the Fantauzzo and have a drink at their trendy rooftop bar Fiume and watch the hustle and bustle of the Wharves from afar.

South Bank

 

South Bank is home to a whole precinct of activities and attractions perfect for you, the family or a date night out. Located on the southern banks of the Brisbane River, the area is made up of 17 hectares of lush parklands and Australia's only inner-city, man-made beach. This makes South Bank Parklands the perfect place for a dip in the pool, stroll in the park or a barbecue with friends. Streets Beach is monitored all day by lifeguards and feels just like the real thing – without a tide, though.

The Epicurious Garden is a great place to learn how to cook the many organic foods the space grows. Volunteer gardeners are on hand from 7-11.30am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and you can collect free produce on those days as well. First in best dressed. Then of course the Wheel of Brisbane’s an uplifting (hah!) way to see the city. Perfect for snapshots and a change of pace, you can also book a private dining experience for two.

For a romantic night out, head straight for River Quay at the southern end of South Bank. Beautiful dining and drinks, plus a lush riverside lawn make for a perfect date night. For more dining choices, a parade of restaurants and bars line Little Stanley St and Grey St with the South Bank Cineplex smack-bang in the middle.

Dine

DINE 720405

Brisbane’s dining scene is booming, and you’ll soon find out why. With flavours to satisfy every set of tastebuds, you’re spoilt for choice. Whether you’re ready for some bar hopping, some cheap and tasty eats or the perfect caffeine hit - Brissie has it all. With the Brisbane classics reopening their doors alongside an abundance of new openings, you’ll want to wine and dine every night of the week. Treat yourself to a meal with a spectacular view, hit up one of the many rooftop bars overlooking the city, or spend a whole Sunday checking it all out. Hop in the car and head for a day of some of the region’s greatest tastes, or stay local for some experiences like no other.

Try something different with experiences like City Winery for Brisbane’s funky urban winery, or book in for a gin class and tasting at the Brisbane Distillery Company.

Cultural Centre

At the top of South Bank, the Cultural Centre is home to Queensland’s largest galleries and library and Australia's most popular museum. QAGOMA consists of the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art. The Queensland Art Gallery houses more traditional mediums and exhibitions while the Gallery of Modern Art is where modernism meets the abstract. Head to QAGOMA now until April to take in the world-renowned exhibition “The Mortorcyle: Design, Art, Desire” showcasing the art, design and history of one of the most iconic objects of the last 150 years, the motorcycle. Take the long journey to the exhibition, with one of three itineraries we’ve put together to get you there and experience all Brisbane has to offer on the way.

QPAC, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, is home to over 1200 performances a year, boasting a catalogue of emerging, local, new and world-renowned productions. You can catch Shrek and his noble steed at the Broadway smash hit Shrek The Musical these holidays from 9th Jan - 7th Feb.

The State Library of Queensland is a knowledge bank in the heart of the Cultural Centre, positioning itself as a community hub for sharing, learning, collaborating and creating. Register as a member for free to get access to the impressive catalogue and to book meeting and study rooms.

Queensland Museum is a museum of natural history, cultural heritage, science and human achievement that also tells the changing story of Queensland. Permanent and rotating exhibitions provide refreshing education experiences for kids and grown-ups while the Sciencentre on Level 1 gets you up close and personal with the latest in research and discovery. Entry to the Sciencentre is ticketed.

Inner-city adventures

For an inner-city adventure, look no further than Riverlife. Take a segway spin under the Story Bridge, rock climb the Kangaroo Point Cliffs or glide down the river in a night-time kayak among the range of experiences.

Brisbane boasts two Botanic Gardens in which to explore and unwind. Bring a picnic blanket and friends or family to the Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens before a hike up the mountain for the breathtaking views of the city. Or relax in the City Botanic Gardens before shopping your stress away along Queen Street Mall.

Day trips

Brisbane is a beautiful place to spend a day discovering all the regions have to offer. Up north, Australia Zoo is the iconic home of the Crocodile Hunter, delivering conservation through exciting education. D’Aguilar National Park houses remote gorges, subtropical rainforests and spectacular views of Moreton Bay just half an hour out of the city. Bribie Island is accessible by bridge for a relaxed beach day or cruise up and down Pumicestone Passage. Wivenhoe Dam offers quiet and relaxed recreation for families, though permits are required for camping, fishing and boating.

In Moreton Bay, Tangalooma Island Resort offers day cruise options for dolphin and whale watching, shipwreck snorkeling, and ATV quad bike tours. Brisbane Whale Watching and Aria Cruises also provide whale watching and dolphin tours in season.

North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) just an hour from the CBD is known for some of the most spectacular scenery found anywhere in Australia. Famous for its scenic headlands, abundance of wildlife, freshwater lakes, rolling surf and endless white sandy beaches the island is quite literally an adventure-filled paradise.

Food, beer and wine tours

Brisbane is home to a craft beer aficionado’s dream. Hop On Brewery Tours and the classic XXXX Brewery Tours will get you around to the city’s best breweries, as you can imagine. Or check out all the breweries you can visit in and around Brisbane.

For wine tours, Brisbane Winery Tours, Vino Bus and Tash Maree have you covered.

Go brewery hopping

Sometimes nothing tastes quite like a fresh crisp beer, and when locally brewed - even better! Brisbane has recently hopped aboard the brewery train, with some of Queensland’s best breweries settling in to call Brissie home.

The Byron Bay classic Stone & Wood, has opened an industrial-style micro-brewery in Fortitude Valley, serving up their all-time best as well as some limited-edition brews. Our tip - get a tasting paddle, you’ll want to try them all.

Take a lofty steel warehouse, add a microbrewery, pub and restaurant and you’ve got Newstead Brewing Co. This boutique brewpub has 12 taps on offer, with eight brews direct from the tanks. Feeling peckish? The kitchen pumps out gastropub feasts fit for craft brews. Why not make a day of it? While you’re in the area, stroll on over to Green Beacon Brewing Co. and Range Brewing and keep the brews coming.

Beer lover or yet-to-be convert, Brisbane breweries are the place to settle in for a relaxing day or night with a cold one in hand, to show some love to local producers.

Shopping in the city

If nothing else, a long wander through the concrete jungle is the perfect excuse to spend some of your hard-earned cash and glam up. The Queen Street Mall is home to some of your favourite retailers and big international chains and luxury brands, while James Street in Fortitude Valley offers a leafy boutique and upscale experience.

Historical sightseeing

Brisbane might be a young city in the overall scheme of – well, everything that’s ever happened – but we’re proud of where we’ve come from. Discover the storied convict history of the River City with Boggo Road Gaol, Newstead House, and the Old Windmill. Flashback to the World Wars with Fort Lytton National Park or wander into the political backdrop of the Parliament House, Old Government House, and Customs House.

Some of Brisbane’s oldest churches are still operational today as well. Catholic Old St. Stephen’s Church, St. John’s Anglican Cathedral and Albert Street Uniting Church host services every Sunday and are gorgeous relics of the 20th century.

River City culture

The Brisbane Powerhouse is a local favourite with Friday night comedy, regular exhibitions, shows on stage and a bar and restaurant for a full night out. The Museum of Brisbane focuses on the art and stories of Brisbane, the Queensland Maritime Museum at South Bank examines our connection to the river and the bay, while the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium urges us to look to the stars.

The Judith Wright Contemporary Art Centre, also known as the Judy, is home to a unique blend of cabaret, circus, dance, music and contemporary performance right in the Valley. The Institute of Modern Art inside the Judy is a free public art gallery and forum for art and its discourses. The Brisbane Arts Theatre, similarly, is an independent icon.

The Fortitude Music Hall is Brisbane’ newest culture kid on the block, hosting the best up and coming gigs Brisbane has had to offer in the last few months, with big things planned. Right in the heart of Fortitude Valley, it’s the place to let your hair down and get your groove on.

Farmers' markets

With unparalleled access to fertile regions all around, Brisbane’s farmers and artisanal market scene is thriving. This comprehensive list of markets will keep you busy around the city, but don’t forget the Redcliffe Jetty Markets or the Collective Markets.

Sports

For sports, look straight to the two Brisbane stadiums. Suncorp Stadium, or Lang Park, mostly hosts the rugby (league and union) and soccer, while The Gabba is a cricket and AFL ground. Weekend sport is also happening all over the city in the smaller leagues – keep an eye out.

Precincts

For a more comprehensive list of exactly where to go and what to do, check out our precinct breakdowns: Ascot & Hamilton at the top of the river, Bulimba & Hawthorne on the opposite bank, the industrial chic of New Farm & Teneriffe, Kangaroo Point & Woolloongabba on the southside, the inner-city hip hubs of Paddington & Rosalie, evolving Milton & Park Road, and the culturally exciting West End.

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